The Cold War

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In What Way Did The Relationship Between The United States And The Soviet Union Change After World War Ii?

What was the relationship between USA and USSR before and after the World War II? I'm interested in how it deteriorated.

The relationship between the USA and the USSR deteriorated after World War II. Although they had worked together to defeat Nazi Germany, the two countries had very different views of postwar Europe. Stalin's takeover of Eastern Europe was opposed by the US. The differing ideologies of communism and capitalism, dictatorship and democracy, separated the two countries when they emerged as competing superpowers. Tensions were heightened by the use of the atomic bomb in World War II and the subsequent nuclear arms race.

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Before World War II, the US and USSR had a strained relationship due to sharp ideological differences. Although the Russian Revolution of 1917 was initially seen as democratic—with the peasant majority resisting the power of the Tsar—the ensuing rise of the Bolsheviks was not supported by the US. The US government refused to recognize the new regime until 1933, and American President Roosevelt condemned the Soviet dictatorship. When the Soviets entered into a pact with Nazi Germany in 1939, and then attacked Finland and absorbed parts of Eastern Europe, Americans were even more suspicious of them.

During World War II, however, the opposing views of communism and capitalism were set aside to deal with the threat of Nazi fascism. Things changed when Nazi Germany attacked the USSR; after this, the US and USSR entered an uneasy alliance from 1941 to 1945. Attacking Nazi Germany on two fronts was essential to draining its resources and ensuring its defeat. Even during this time, however, there was tension; Stalin was impatient for the Allies to launch their attack on the Western front, and there was worry that the USSR would try to form their own peace agreement with Germany.

Even before the end of World War II, when Nazi Germany’s defeat appeared to be inevitable, the relationship between the US and USSR began to break down as the Allies formulated plans for post-war Europe. Stalin’s aggressive takeover of Eastern Europe as an expansion of the USSR was in contrast to the democratic ideals of the US. This desire to enforce control over a large area was threatening to America, and quickly set the two countries up as competing superpowers.

By 1946, Winston Churchill was warning about the “iron curtain” falling across Europe; on the other side, Stalin was blaming World War II on “capitalist imperialism,” ominously implying that another war may be inevitable. The use of the atomic bomb at the end of World War II also set the stage for the arms race, amplifying the tensions and fears between the US and USSR throughout the Cold War era.

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As the other answers states, the United States and the U.S.S.R. only came together because of the severe threat posed by a common enemy, Nazi Germany.

Between 1917 and 1941 relations were tense between the U.S. and the Soviets. Until 1933, the U.S. refused even to recognize the Soviet Union, protesting the Soviet cancelling of its debts to the United States and its nationalization of U.S. property within its border.

After World War II, relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R rapidly deteriorated. The United States believed it had behaved honorably to the Soviets, by, for example, holding back its troops from entering Berlin because it had agreed the Russians could take that city. In return, the U.S. felt it was dealt with treacherously. For example, the Soviets had promised free elections in the Eastern European territories it occupied during the war, then manipulated events to install puppet Communist regimes in all of those countries. From...

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the Soviet point of view, the country felt it desperately needed a buffer zone as protection against a predatory West. It argued that it had borne the brunt of casualties in World War II and would not let that happen again.

After the Soviets obtained nuclear capability, more fears arose between the two superpowers, who were ideologically opposed in irreconcilable ways.

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The U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies only because they were forced into a very uneasy and uncomfortable alliance. Ideologically they had been polar opposites and it was more chance of fate than anything else that did not put them on opposite sides of the war.

Shortly after the Russian Revolution of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson sent troops to Siberia to aid the "white army" comprised of Russian nationalists in an attempt to overthrow the new Soviet communist regime. This did not endear the U.S. to the Soviets. Prior to U.S. entry in World War II, the Soviets had taken part in an invasion of Poland which Germany had initiated, in fact Germany and the Soviets had secretly agreed to divide Poland between them. It was only when Hitler invaded the Soviets that the U.S. became allied.

Following the war, Stalin commented in a speech from the Kremlin:

The war against fascism has ended; the war against capitalism has begun.

The two never saw things eye to eye, and although they were forced into a convenient alliance, they parted company almost immediately after the war. The Cold War was the logical conclusion which brought both countries to the brink of nuclear war until the Soviet Union finally collapsed.

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While it was true that the US and the Soviet Union were allies during World War II, this was only because they had a common enemy: Nazi Germany.  Their systems of government, their economies and their world views were vastly different, and bound to clash.

Once the war was won, these two countries emerged as the only viable empires left on Earth, otherwise known as superpowers.  As the Soviets attempted to spread comunism to new countries, the US adopted a policy of containment, stopping that spread wherever possible.  Since the US already had the atomic bomb, this led to a race for the USSR to obtain it, and a very expensive, very long arms race afterwards.

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